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My Four Biggest Gardening Mistakes

7/30/2013 4:36:00 PM

Tags: garden mistakes, Harper Slusher, North Carolina

leaf lettuceGardening is probably one of the most frustrating, yet rewarding things I’ve ever done. Although I have grown herbs and vegetables for nearly all of my life, it was only in the past two years that I’ve grown a truly substantial garden. Even though I’m always working to make my garden perfect, like most things, there is definitely a learning curve with gardening. In two years, I have made countless mistakes on my garden. Fortunately, I have gained knowledge from these faults to improve my future gardens!

• Weeding an area, but not planting or mulching immediately afterwards: Weeding is certainly a waste of time if steps are not taken to prevent them from growing back. Many undesirable plants can be prevented from reappearing by placing a few layers of newspaper down and covering them with a mulch of your choice. This will block weeds from coming up for at least a month and make it much easier to remove them in the future.

• Letting weeds go to seed: Once weeds have gone to seed, it becomes increasingly more difficult to control them. A single plant can produce hundreds, or even thousands, of seeds, multiplying the weed problem. Also, the additional time to grow allows their roots to grow stronger and deeper, making them much more difficult to remove in the long run.

Now, if I’m too occupied to thoroughly weed an area, I use a weed whacker to shorten the plants nearly to the ground and burn them with propane flame torch. This kills the plants allowing them to compost into the ground. If you cannot ‘flame’ your weeds, weed whacking will at least prevent the plants from going to seed for a week or so while also making it easier to remove them. If your weeds have already gone to seed, do not weed whack these plants, as this will only distribute the seeds, encouraging more growth.weed flamer

• Not using a garden planner: Last year was the first time we had a substantial garden. We carefully mapped out what varieties we planted and the location we planted them in. This spring, we didn’t bother to map out our garden; even after planting. What a big mistake! At planting time, I believed different varieties of beans would be easy to identify. Apparently not! A few months after planting, the plants were bushes about 1½ feet tall, nearly identical except for the subtle differences in the beans. It was a struggle, even to identify the dry beans from the bush beans. Certainly, we don’t know which varieties have done the best or are the tastiest for the purpose of planning next years garden.

• Starting out too large: The garden I started last year was by far the largest garden I’ve ever had. It took a week of hard work just to dig up the soil into mounds and a few more days to lay down newspaper and straw and plant seeds. Even now, I find its size overwhelming. Although I have always dreamed of having a beautiful large garden, its upkeep is a struggle. Weeding alone takes many hours a week just to prevent crabgrass from completely consuming the garden beds. I now wish that I had established my garden at a much smaller scale, only expanding when necessary.

Despite how difficult gardening can be at times, I continue to enjoy and appreciate the constant produce that it provides. The food I have harvested from my garden is incomparable to produce found in a grocery store. Crisp, fresh and flavorful vegetables make all the digging, planting and weeding worth it!

I am a young farmer and photographer dedicated to growing organically and protecting the environment.



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Post a comment below.

 

judy
8/26/2013 1:33:53 PM
Gardening this year has taken me into the world of herbs...I've designed my garden plot in an artistically, using herbs in geometric shapes, filling in as much ground space as possible. (weed preventive). I can harvest any time without taking away from the design. The vegetable are basically in their own beds surrounding the herb-based garden display. I added some annual flowers as well, filling color into the design. I will take some photos of the garden & post them next time, now that the gardenspace has filled in beautifully...

judy
8/26/2013 1:33:47 PM
Gardening this year has taken me into the world of herbs...I've designed my garden plot in an artistically, using herbs in geometric shapes, filling in as much ground space as possible. (weed preventive). I can harvest any time without taking away from the design. The vegetable are basically in their own beds surrounding the herb-based garden display. I added some annual flowers as well, filling color into the design. I will take some photos of the garden & post them next time, now that the gardenspace has filled in beautifully...

Bryan Peretto
8/26/2013 8:14:46 AM
I love posts like these so I can learn from others' mistakes. Which is why I also post my own gardening triumphs and failures. But I do have to disagree somewhat with the last point. If you don't have experience gardening, yes, start off with a single bed. But, if you decide you're all in- it's easier to do everything at once. Rent some big equipment, buy things in bulk, etc. You can't spread out your expenses, but it'll likely be cheaper and more convenient over making, say, 10 different trips to the hardware store whenever you want to expand. In my case, I had 1 raised bed for the past many years. This year I built 17. I got a big load of lumber delivered. Bulk garden soil on a dump truck. Rented a backhoe (best investment ever!). Bulk plastic mulch and irrigation lines, etc... It's hard work, but a lot better than adding a little bit here and there. It's done and I don't have to worry about it anymore. And between the mulch and automated drip line, I hope to reduce a lot of the labor you mentioned. Think smarter, don't work harder.

DruidJo
8/25/2013 5:40:28 AM
I plan my garden all winter long. I just can't wait to get out in the dirt and I have been doing this for nearly 30years now. I started out on the ground and moved to raised beds and have incorporated a mobile tunnel system over them that allows me to plant as early as late February and early March. I grow all year long with these because they are like tunnels. I think the best advice I can possibly give is go to raised beds. They are easier on the back and a whole lot less weeding. And you can easily convert them to cold frames to get going early and stay playing late if you don't want to go to tunnels. I have made mine from recycled foundation blocks, cinder blocks, recycled brick and field stones. Compost, compost, and more compost. Always prepare beds in the fall by removing all of the old plants and tilling the ground. Lay on a thick layer of compost that will be ready to till into the soil in the spring. Consider cover crops. I have rabbits, goats and chickens so a nice bit of green from the tunnel system is always appreciated. The weeds never get a chance to move in. @jerrygottago: I had nematodes years ago. This is not an organic or friendly way to deal with them, but if you plan on letting the land lie fallow anyway I will tell you how I got rid of them. Sevin dust and granules. I would till the soil and put dust in it. I would rake it out flat and put the granules over it. I did that every two or three weeks and added compost twice in a summer and then again in the fall. I still have my corn and pumpkins in that spot. It killed off everything in the soil. It was a bit extreme, but I was very young and determined to expand my garden area to a new field.

PaulaJo
8/23/2013 10:20:40 AM
The first thing that popped into my head while reading your was "Raised Beds". Weeding will become a thing of the past, and you can add on as need be to enlarge your garden. eBay is a great place to watch videos of folks that are into raised beds and see how they did it and how it is working out for them.

jerrygottago
8/23/2013 9:33:57 AM
I know I've learned a lot in the past 10 yr. I've grown a garden. I guess the biggest thing was before you start get your soil analyzed for elements and in my case pest. It took me several years to learn why my garden would start out looking so good an growing so well to all of a sudden start turning yellow and dying. At first thinking it wasn't getting enough water or food. Only to learn that I had the dreaded Root knot nematode's. The county agent told me there wasn't much that could be done to stop these pest that my best bet would be move the garden to another place. Which I did only to discover the same problem. I wanted to just give up. But I just couldn't see letting some microscopic pest beat me out of something I really love and wanted to do. So I started to search for plants that are resistant to root knot. But trust me there isn't a lot on the market Clemson University use to carry some bean and a few other seed that were but they stop selling them now I can't find many but. Not being a quitter I bought 10 earth boxes and have been working with them for the past 3yr. but it isn't the same as growing in good old mother earth. So I keep composting my garden in the front part of my yard. This garden is 20' x 45'so it is about 900sq. ft. and I keep planting I get some and the Nematodes get their fair share. But this yr. in some of my reading I've found that there are some friendly Nematodes that in fact it is said like to eat root knot nematodes. One of which I am told is Steinernema feltiae, Now I can't say that for a fact they work since I'm still trying to save up the money to buy a 100mil. and yes that is 100 million enough to treat 1/2 acre this will give me enough to treat my front garden and yard and my new 30'x 20' back garden which yes has root knot but not as bad as the front. Now my hope is to get these by Feb. and get them in the ground. Now I'm not expecting a miracle. But my hope is by the spring of 2015 I'll really be able to see a deferens in the way things grow. I've tried black plastic to cover the ground and super heat the soil to kill the root knot and a whole bunch of other things over the years so this is just another step towards trying to have a garden that I can enjoy so enjoy your mistakes cause if you learn something from them are they really a mistake. That is a short version of my story of a garden in N.E. Fl. jerrygottago and that is I've gotta go to the garden Jerry

jerrygottago
8/23/2013 9:33:50 AM
I know I've learned a lot in the past 10 yr. I've grown a garden. I guess the biggest thing was before you start get your soil analyzed for elements and in my case pest. It took me several years to learn why my garden would start out looking so good an growing so well to all of a sudden start turning yellow and dying. At first thinking it wasn't getting enough water or food. Only to learn that I had the dreaded Root knot nematode's. The county agent told me there wasn't much that could be done to stop these pest that my best bet would be move the garden to another place. Which I did only to discover the same problem. I wanted to just give up. But I just couldn't see letting some microscopic pest beat me out of something I really love and wanted to do. So I started to search for plants that are resistant to root knot. But trust me there isn't a lot on the market Clemson University use to carry some bean and a few other seed that were but they stop selling them now I can't find many but. Not being a quitter I bought 10 earth boxes and have been working with them for the past 3yr. but it isn't the same as growing in good old mother earth. So I keep composting my garden in the front part of my yard. This garden is 20' x 45'so it is about 900sq. ft. and I keep planting I get some and the Nematodes get their fair share. But this yr. in some of my reading I've found that there are some friendly Nematodes that in fact it is said like to eat root knot nematodes. One of which I am told is Steinernema feltiae, Now I can't say that for a fact they work since I'm still trying to save up the money to buy a 100mil. and yes that is 100 million enough to treat 1/2 acre this will give me enough to treat my front garden and yard and my new 30'x 20' back garden which yes has root knot but not as bad as the front. Now my hope is to get these by Feb. and get them in the ground. Now I'm not expecting a miracle. But my hope is by the spring of 2015 I'll really be able to see a deferens in the way things grow. I've tried black plastic to cover the ground and super heat the soil to kill the root knot and a whole bunch of other things over the years so this is just another step towards trying to have a garden that I can enjoy so enjoy your mistakes cause if you learn something from them are they really a mistake. That is a short version of my story of a garden in N.E. Fl. jerrygottago and that is I've gotta go to the garden Jerry










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